LONDON: Dubai and the wider UAE can help British businesses reach a potential new export market of four billion people in India, the Middle East and Africa, according to a panel of experts.
Speaking at a business seminar organized by the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce on Monday, representatives of Emirati multinational logistics company DP World and the UAE-UK Business Council highlighted the unique opportunities offered by the port of Jebel Ali in Dubai and its associated free zone.
DP World CEO Abdulla bin Damithan said the port and its facilities give British businesses the opportunity to access markets in the Middle East, India, Far East and Africa southern.
“The particularity of Jebel Ali port is that you will not find another place where there is a port, an airport and a free zone in the same area,” he said.
This setup has allowed it to operate relatively unscathed during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to play a vital role in global trade, he added.
In the aftermath of Brexit, the port can play a vital role as a catalyst for transactions between the UK and new markets, according to Damithan.
“We believe we will be able to open new windows of growth for UK business and industry; we are here to open up new markets in the UK,” he said.
“We are present in different parts of the world, we have over 180 business units, we have logistics capacity – we like to think of ourselves as trade facilitators, not just a port or a free zone. With our logistics and shipping capabilities, we want to move freight from the factory to the customer’s doorstep. »
Bradley Jones, executive director of the UAE-UK Business Council, said Dubai and the wider UAE offer access to a market with huge potential for British businesses.
“We are working closely with both governments, as well as here in London with the UAE Embassy and the UAE Ministry of Economy, and we are working closely with the United Arab Emirates Department of International Trade. UK,” he said.
“What we do is add value to what happens at the government-to-government level. We don’t give export advice as such, DIT is already good at it, but we talk about what is happening in Dubai, trends and opportunities.
“It’s an economy that is diversifying at a very rapid pace; it invests heavily in skills and technology. It is important to understand this story if you are a UK startup (Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things) or edu-tech or medi-tech – there are opportunities for you in Dubai. It’s about identifying the right economic area and the right partners to try to grow the business in the region.
Referring to the possibility of a free trade agreement between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jones predicted that collaboration between Britain and the United Arab Emirates on energy transition would play an important role. in expanding links.
“The United Arab Emirates has a very good story to tell about the energy transition,” he said. “Just two weeks ago (the country) announced a pioneering partnership with BP to develop hydrogen capabilities in Teeside (north England). Next year it will host COP28 (the Conference of Nations on Climate Change 2023), and if you look at almost every industry in the UAE, decarbonization is a common thread that runs through them all, whether it’s environmental, manufacturing or logistic.
“Underlying these opportunities is getting the business framework right. Hopefully we will start negotiations for a UK-GCC Free Trade Agreement very soon. It’s never easy to negotiate a free trade agreement with six different countries, all of which are developing at different rates, but I think that at the same time the UK and the United Arab Emirates will negotiate their own side agreement .
Bilateral trade between the UK and the UAE is worth billions of dollars and includes a wide range of goods, including food and cars. Damithan believes this business partnership has helped cement the strong relationship between the two countries. He also believes that the ambitions of Dubai and the wider UAE in terms of business goals coincide with those of the UK.
“In Dubai, we have the ambition to increase our foreign trade by 80% over the next few years,” Damithan said. “We call it the ‘Two Trillion Initiative’, which is basically building (trade) bridges between regions. We started with India and Africa and now we’re looking at the UK.
“The vision behind the bridges is to offer an integrated network solution across geographies. The UAE is the region’s largest domestic market and the third largest re-export market, so (within it) Dubai is perfectly positioned to provide the most efficient market access for manufacturers and suppliers. UK exporters.
“We complete the UK’s £1 trillion ($1.26 trillion) export target by 2030, so I think it’s time we all work together to achieve that vision.”